12 September 2012


We took some of Lula with us to Scotland.

 When we knew Lula was going to die we were faced with all these horribly practical decisions, and one of them was where she should be buried. It was too momentous a choice, one that seemed to require foresight and logic that neither of us, in a delirium of grief and sleep deprivation, possessed.  She had never been more than a few feet from one of us for nearly her entire life, so it seemed best to have her cremated so we could keep her at home with us.

The beauty of cremation is that she can be in as many places as we want and still be with us. Her lovely face and fragile body were reduced to a box full of ashes. But for the fragments of bone, a tiny piece of femur, a shard of something else, that took my breath away to see - what is more intimate than to see your baby's very structure that you created?- the ashes are indistinguishable from any other charred remains. In separating her body into an infinity of grey particles she was emancipated her from all the pain and illness that tethered her to our house or a hospital for her entire life. Now she could go anywhere and everywhere all at once. So, we have begun to assemble a pilgrimage of places we want her to be and people we want her to be with.

Lula's ashes. I made the bag from leftover material from her baby quilt.

First and foremost was Island Neave, Lula's middle name and closest neighbor to Island Roan. Sam arranged for Billy, a local fisherman, to take us there with Will, Jam, Lorcan and Maeve on a Friday morning. The weather had been gloomy and temperamental all week.  Friday morning, as it happened, was perfect.

Billy took us the long way around Neave. It's a tiny, uninhabited island with sculptural outcroppings of rock that grow to meet luminous green hills. 

There is no mooring or harbor or even a slip. Billy grabbed the side of the rocks and held on as we scrambled up with the kids. We walked over to the beach and scampered around for a while.

                                I don't know what these are but they were growing on the rocks right on the beach.                                        Amazing that something so delicate can live there.

We spent a while on the beach and then hiked up to the top of the island.  As there are no sheep to gnaw away at the heather or otherwise erode the scenery the land is pristine.  It is covered in tiny wildflowers and springy grass and yellow lichen.  The view of the sea is endless. 

We stood against the wind for a while and then had a whiskey toast to Lula, the adults anyway.  Sam put Roan on his shoulders and we gave him the bag of ashes to scatter over the heather.  He got some on Sam's head and enjoyed watching the ashes dissipate through the crisp air, totally unaware of the weight of the moment. 

Another delicate creature living on Neave

It was wonderful to have the four of them with us to celebrate Lula's return to Scotland.  She had been to Scotland only once and in utero, when Lorcan was still a toddler and Maeve not even a twinkle and it feels like we have all lived a lifetime since then. Somehow I felt like they understood what this meant to us, that it was not a mourning or a burial, it was a liberation and a tribute to the lives our kids have given us.

Before we headed back to meet Billy and the boat Sam recited this poem:

In this world
love has no color-
yet how deeply
my body
is stained by yours.

                - Izumi Shikibu

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful and perfect... Just like Lula. Love to you all.